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Alphas “Catch and Release” review
Alphas did something very crafty this week. It explored how protective we can become of our children in such a way that it didn’t even become apparent until the final minutes that that was the theme of the episode. What once seemed like three separate plotlines was revealed to be just pieces of a bigger picture.
“Catch and Release” features Summer Glau (Firefly) as Skylar, an Alpha with the highly valuable ability to invent devices using virtually any random objects. She’s like MacGyver, only cuter. She has a history with Dr. Rosen and Nina, who helped her five years ago. Some goons have been after her for her technology, and the Alphas attempt to help her. When it’s discovered it’s actually the NSA who are tailing her, Skylar escapes. From here the show makes it seems as though she’s working with Red Flag, based on encrypted messages she’s been sending, and she’s planning something dangerous. A lot of what goes on serves to further develop Nina, who joins Skylar to prove she doesn’t just take orders, and find out what is actually going on. Compared to Rachel and Bill’s central episode, Nina gets short-changed. While she was given some characterization, she could have been given more. It seems likely Alphas will revisit Nina in a later episode.
Meanwhile Gary’s mother is terrified for her son’s safety. She apparently forced Gary to tell her what Dr. Rosen’s team does, which is something she wasn’t supposed to know (it’s classified). Naturally, any mother of an autistic child would freak if they learned their son was being put in harm’s way. She forbids Gary to go to work, something Gary doesn’t take too kindly to. He sneaks out to help his friends and teammates (racking up an $800 cab ride, yowza). When he finally returns home, he puts his foot down. Being an agent makes him happy, and that’s what his mother should want, regardless of his safety.
Sprinkled throughout “Catch and Release” is Bill’s fear of having a child. His wife has put it off long enough and is worried she’s running out of time to be a mother. When you have an ability you can’t even tell your wife about, and it’s a genetic ability, you start to wonder if it could be passed down to your kid. It’s not that Bill’s worried his son will be just like him–he’s concerned that he’ll be taken away to be studied by the government. Bill asks Hicks if his son shares his ability. Hicks says no, and Bill is very relieved. Maybe the gene skips a generation?
From there Skylar’s story ties, rather nicely, with Bill’s. We discover that Skylar’s messages were being sent to her daughter, who’s an Alpha, as well. She did all this, the running, the sabotage, just so the government could never get a hold of her daughter’s ability. This perfectly emulates Bill’s thought process without ever blatantly saying so. When you put Bill and Skylar’s stories up with Gary’s mom, you suddenly have three concerned adults worried about their children (or in Bill’s case, potential children). It all just fit so nicely together that it felt good to see it being built, piece by piece. However, near the end Bill suddenly buying a book on being a father kind of came out of nowhere. We weren’t given any indication that he was leaning one way or the other. Granted, he claims to have not made a decision, but it still felt odd.
This episode was great. Some parts dragged a little, but I mean just a little. I wish we had spent more time getting to know about Nina’s past, but there’s still time for that before the season is out. The episode was lots of fun and had a well structured narrative.